A giraffe who fancies himself king of the zoo fights an uphill battle to maintain his sovereignty and his supply of treats.
Leopold is adored by the zoo-going children and relishes his high position—until one brown-faced child appears with competition in the form of a high-flying giraffe balloon. Giraffe and balloon play a game of one-upmanship until the giraffe appears to be the loser. The balloon does not require a steady supply of snacks, which leads to Leopold sulking with his head in an acacia tree and then exacting explosive revenge against the upstart balloon. The scheme backfires as the kid shows up with a bigger and better version of the balloon in the form of a whole bunch of them. Alas, the kid trips, the kid loses the balloons, and the giraffe faces a moral dilemma. All ends well for the giraffe and his snacks and the boy and his balloons. Parsley’s little tale deals with some serious issues that are treated comically. Her digital artwork emphasizes the heights of the high-necked and high-strung combatants, as does the tall format of the book. Facial features are exaggerated while type resembling hand-drawn lettering advances the drama, occasionally filling a double-spread with explosive action.
While not a first-choice title to deal with jealousy and decision-making, this is a lighthearted foray into the difficulties of zoo life and—more to the point—peer behavior. (Picture book. 3-6)